Hong Kong officials have expressed their condolences to the family of a police officer after her body was found on Monday morning. Senior Police Inspector Lam Yuen-yee’s body was found near the coast of Yi O on Lantau island, two days after she fell overboard while on duty near the island of Sha Chau.

Lam, 37, had been pursuing smugglers in the waters off Lung Kwu Tan with three colleagues when a suspected smuggling boat collided with the police vessel, causing it to capsize, the force’s commissioner Raymond Siu said on Monday.

Senior Police Inspector Lam Yuen-yee. Photo: Police screenshot and Wikicommons.

Lam did not resurface, while the other three officers were injured and admitted to hospital.

“Our colleagues were doing their best to carry out their duties… We are very saddened by this incident,” the commissioner said.

The Regional Crime Unit of the Marine Police is currently investigating the case. Nobody has yet been arrested in relation to the operation.

Raymond Siu
Police Commissioner Raymond Siu. Photo: RTHK Screenshot.

Siu added that the police force will spare no efforts in pursuing “cold-blooded” criminals and that the force will strengthen its anti-smuggling operations in the future.

The city’s leader Carrie Lam expressed her sympathies to the victim’s family: “I and members of the public are profoundly grieved by the tragic loss of Ms Lam when she was on duty. The Civil Service Bureau and the Hong Kong Police Force will make every effort to support her family.”

Chief Secretary for Administration John Lee, Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip, and Secretary for Security Chris Tang all separately issued statements of condolences. Other establishment politicians, including the DAB’s Starry Lee and New People’s Party’s Regina Ip, also posted messages of condolences on social media.

Lam joined the force in 2007 and was attached to the Marine Police’s Small Boat Division.

Increased smuggling arrests

Siu said the force had encountered a dramatic uptick in smuggling cases since 2019, after the onset of Covid travel restrictions between the mainland and Hong Kong.

marine police firefighters
Drill in Victoria Harbour. File photo: Ivy Ho, via Facebook.

Between 2017 and 2019, around 16 smugglers were arrested on average per year. Figures have jumped to 66 since 2020, with 46 people arrested for smuggling within the first eight months of this year.

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Rhoda Kwan is HKFP's Assistant Editor. She has previously written for TimeOut Hong Kong and worked at Meanjin, a literary journal. She holds a double bachelor’s degree in Law and Literature from the University of Hong Kong.